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99-Year-Old ‘Piano Man’ Lights Up the Internet

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

This blog is to honor my 99-year-old father-in-law, Henry Shapiro. He has been playing piano professionally since he was 13 years old and is now performing on Facebook Live every Saturday at 5:00pm to help lift everyone’s spirits during this pandemic. He is an inspiration to his many fans. You can learn more about him via his Facebook page (run by his wife)

Henry was featured on CBS News recently.

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99-Year-Old ‘Piano Man’ Lights Up Internet, Brings Joy In Face …

newyork.cbslocal.com › 2020/04/22 › coronavirus-cov…

Apr 22, 2020 – MORRIS COUNTY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) 


The following is a link to a feature About Henry that was recently published by NJ.com, a New Jersey news organization.  http://nj-ne.ws/AD4BNdh

For your enjoyment, I am posting YouTube links to just a few of his Saturday at 5pm concerts. For more, search him in YouTube using “Henry Hank Shapiro” Feel free to share these with friends and especially with parents or grandparents who would appreciate Henry’s style and song selections.

28:55NOW PLAYINGWATCH LATERADD TO QUEUE

Henry Hank Shapiro June 6, 2020

R Lynch

102 views3 weeks ago

Hank will be 100 in September 2020. Enjoy his Saturday pandemic gig! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zzVwl-9z20

34:12NOW PLAYING

Henry “Hank” Shapiro March 28, 2020

R Lynch

253 views3 months ago

5 pm Concert #3. Henry Shapiro, 99 1/2, live streaming during the pandemic.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRbsfP9M79s

30:55NOW PLAYING

Henry Hank Shapiro June 27, 2020

R Lynch

52 views3 days ago

Hank will be 100 in Sept! You can hear his passion for music in this Sat live Facebook gig during the pandemic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXC62YMQ9A8&t=102s

30:29NOW PLAYING

Henry Hank Shapiro 99 years old

R Lynch

Vote-by-mail is NOT Safe From Executive Power

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

I have a different view on mail-in ballots than most. Yes, it has been safe and very beneficial in the past. The question is how safe is an election against a determined attack by a ruthless potentate? That is the question we must answer. The potential vulnerabilities of vote-by-mail against threats by the Executive Branch to undermine or discredit an election are very significant. Elections are state functions.

Each state has full constitutional authority and autonomy to conduct its own elections. There are no national elections in the United States. That is perhaps the most fundamental separation of power in the Constitution that most of us don’t think of when we think of checks and balances.

To the extent that a state relies on the US Postal Service to handle state election ballots, it surrenders some of that autonomy to the federal government. It is a massive vulnerability because the U.S. Postal Service is under the direct control of the Chief Executive, Donald Trump.

We have already seen moves by the President to exploit this vulnerability when he installed an acting Master General, Louis DeJoy, on June 15, 2020. DeJoy was a top fundraiser for Donald Trump and the Republican National Party and a stalwart ally of the President. DeJoy is the first Postmaster General in 20 years with no prior experience at the U.S. Postal Service. He was president of LDJ Global Strategies, a Greensboro, North Carolina-based, boutique firm with interests in real estate, private equity, consulting, and project management.

When DeJoy began his tenure as 75 Postmaster General, he immediately began implementing sweeping changes to USPS operations in the face of backlash from unions, employees, and lawmakers. USPS announced a reorganization and corresponding executive shakeups that have already degraded the reliability of the USPS. Congress has expressed concern that new Postmaster DeJoy was consolidating power within the organization. The net effect has been slower mail delivery and a growing fear that the USPS will not be able to handle the great volume of mail that is expected due to huge numbers of mail-in-ballots.

When President Trump says that mail-in-voting will create a mess in this election, that isn’t a prediction… it is a direct threat by a man who is already acting to deliver on it.

And that isn’t the only vulnerability of mail-in voting. But focusing on the US Postal Service, there are a number of things that could help mitigate the threat of missing or late ballot deliveries. Proper handling of mail-in voting by mail might alleviate the vulnerability.

Maintaining the chain of custody

All mail-in ballots could be sent by certified mail with a return receipt request. Currently, the normal chain of custody in a state election is maintained in most states. Pickups by postal workers break that chain of custody. There is no proof that your ballot was picked up, and not stolen out of your mailbox, or from a mail drop. There is no way to track your envelope or ensure it has been delivered.

If your ballot is misplaced before it is date stamped at the Post Office, there is no way to prove you sent it before election day. If the USPS is going to play a vital part in a state election, vote-by-mail ballots should all be handled as certified mail, at no cost to the voter. Congress should allocate money to the US Postal Service to defray the cost to certify every mail-in ballot.

Additionally, every state board of election office collecting and processing the ballots should receive an electronic list of who has mailed every ballot being sent by certified mail. When the ballots are received at the Boards of the election, the return receipts and mail-in ballot should be timestamped as having been received in the office and the verified delivery cards returned to the voter. This would go a long way in securing vote-by-mail ballots.

Postscript from 8/13/2020. Trump says it out loud:

Daily Pandemic Diary for August – U.S.National Health Emergency

U.S.National Health Emergency – The 2020 Pandemic

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

(If you are returning to this site skip down to today’s data table and comments section below)

Welcome to the Daily Pandemic Diary for August. This report is divided into four parts, the U.S. daily global share of new cases in the prior 25 hour period, the U.S. daily global share of COVID-19 related deaths in the same 24 hour period, a daily commentary on the trends and related issues, and a graphic of the table from which the raw data is reported.  The raw data all comes from the international Worldometer.info website. The main purpose here is to provide a daily snapshot of how the U.S. is doing relative to the world as a whole. For example, if we have 4.3% of the world’s population but 20% of the new cases, that isn’t very good. If 18 other countries are testing more of their people per million population than are we, that is an indication that we must do better, etc. The twenty-four-hour lookback is based on Grenich Mean-time. The Total Tests/U.S. Population is the ratio of all COVID-19 tests given relative to the population of only one test was given per person.

This blog continues the daily collection of data begun in the blog mentions below. Daily additions to that blog became cumbersome, therefore future daily diaries with be added to a blog for each month.

DAILY UPDATE – USA COVID-19 DATA, A GLOBAL COMPARISON

U.S. National Health EmergencyDay 161 – August 22, 2020

Comments: Things have yet to turn around. It can all be challenging and depressing at times. So, today I wanted to offer up the numbers with uplifting words of hope written in another time when the world was darkness and great upheaval. 

Desiderata

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

U.S. National Health EmergencyDay 160 – August 21, 2020

Comments: To put this country’s pandemic performance into an international perspective, consider how the ranking of nations would change if California, Texas, and Florida were their own countries. As of yesterday, subtracting the total new cases from these three states would only drop the U.S. from second-most new infections to third place. At the same time, California would rank 7th, Texas would rank 9th and Florida would rank 12th out of 218 nations. This is really bad. We can and must do better.

As the Summer begins to fade it is time to consider what we have learned about the virus before we shift more of our activity indoors. We know that the principal means of transmission is from what we exhale and inhale and that the biggest threats come from the largest moisture droplets we expel when we breathe, talk, cough, sing or sneeze. Hence the continuing need for masks and social distancing. 

We have also learned that the virus can be present in the much smaller aerosol form. The virus load of these microscopic moisture particles is small. Short exposures to low concentrations of aerosols are unlikely to cause infections, but extended breathing by an infected person is a smaller space with little ventilation that will concentrate the aerosol virus load to infectious levels. 

N95 masks have small enough pores to filter out most aerosols, but they are not effective in stopping aerosol transmission because where masks contact our skin there are always gaps that let in these aerosols. These gaps also allow aerosols to escape. So as we migrate indoors, how do we keep the air safe when people gather to socialize. 

Vox News just published an article on this subject. In summary, there are three basic ways to keep indoor air as safe as possible. First is to limit the size and length of time for indoor gatherings, especially in smaller rooms, and to wear masks when non-household members are visiting. 

The second is to have as much fresh-air exchange as possible. So, window fans or heating systems that have air exchangers might be examples. Leaving the bathroom vent fans running during and immediately after visits, might be a good idea, as long as the bathroom windows are closed. This creates a negative pressure that prevents the air in the bathroom from entering the rest of the living space. Air-exchange is always possible and is never simple. You don’t want the flow of air in a home or business to carry a virus in the air from an infected person past the uninfected people, for example. 

The third way to make indoor air safer is to filter the air using a properly equipt portable HEPA filter. HEPA filters have the same pore size and filtering capacity as an N95 mask. A properly sized air filter can exchange the volume of air in a room multiple times per hour. When you are entertaining guests and they are wearing masks (while not eating or drinking), a HEPA filter in the room will slow or reduce the build-up of virus-carrying aerosols making the room safer for all.

U.S. National Health EmergencyDay 159 – August 20, 2020

Comments: One out of four COVID-19 infections around the world have happened here in the United States and new infections rates are still four times higher than expected given our population. Testing is still lagging behind given our case numbers, especially in the states of Florida, Texas where more testing is badly needed. As mentioned a few days ago, testing rates have declined by about 13% in the past two weeks prompting some reporting that suggests fewer tests is a way to suppress the reporting of daily new cases for political reasons in some states. If this is happening we should see a decline in both testing and cases with positive test rate either stable or trending upward, not downward (unless people with symptoms are not being tested while those without symptoms are being tested in greater numbers.) 

A visual review of available data on testing and new case reporting suggests that this might be happening in some states, but it isn’t conclusive. A more sophisticated statistical analysis would be needed. Some of the visual data I looked at is included below. (continue viewing at Data-Driven Viewpoints blog)

These are the states that suggest a relationship between testing and new case reporting. There are other states where the data gives a mixed result, so, absent a more refined statistical analysis, this visual inspection of the data appears to inconclusive.

U.S. National Health EmergencyDay 158 – August 19, 2020

COMMENTS:  [no comments today]


U.S. National Health Emergency
Day 157 – August 18, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.2%  …………… U.S. POPULATION25.5% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.4% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 20.5% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 13.7%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 17th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
40,612   …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
  522      …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
727,151 …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
216,412*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
21.6%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 We rose a rank, to 17th, in tests per million but we are still far short of any reasonable goal for daily testing. Other nations that have the their numbers under control require less daily testing than countries that have very high infection rates. USA Today reports that “As testing has slowed, positive rates increased over the past week in 35 states as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center. ”  On Sunday the New York Times also reported on the declining trend in testing and reiterated the point that the number of tests given per day in the United States should be in the millions to effectively fight the spread of the disease. Business Insider reported that the decline in testing over the past two weeks amounts to a 13% reduction. And CBS News has pointed out that the decline in testing calls the accuracy of COVID-19 data into question. As testing declines, so do the number of reported positive cases. At the same time, less testing means that only symptomatic people are getting tested, which raises the positivity rates. High positivity rates and dropping numbers of new cases appears to be evident in a number of states. The fear, of course, is that the testing decline may be a harbinger of political manipulations to justify political goals.

U.S. National Health Emergency
Day 156  –  Monday, August 17, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.2%  …………… U.S. POPULATION25.5% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.4% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 17.3% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 11.5%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 18th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
36,843   …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
  522      …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
862,664 …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
214,220*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
21.2%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 The United States remains second in new infections over the past 24 hours despite a large drop in cases, which might be due to the usual weekend reporting lag. Close attention must be paid to the reports of the number as we approach the election because the potential for manipulation has grown substantially.

For decades, and up until June 20th, the CDC got all their health statistics directly from the hospitals and other medical centers. These statistics were also sent out by health care providers to the states’ Departments of Health.

Now President Trump has created something called the “HHS Project” and diverted all COVID-19 statistical reporting to his own cabinet agency. Hospitals and health organizations no longer submit their data directly to the CDC.

But the HHS Project does not get the daily data directly from hospitals either. The Trump administration gave a 10 million dollar, no-bid, six-month contract to TeleTracking Technologies to create an interface website program to which hospitals must report their daily statistics. From there, the information is transmitted to another private vendor, Palantir Technologies, for data processing services. Palantir is a privately held, Republican-friendly company that is going public in what is expected to be the biggest IPO this year. Business Insider Magazine described Palantir this way in a July 7th article:

“Palantir, a secretive tech company started by members of the ‘PayPal mafia’ with close ties to the Trump administration, could be one of the biggest tech IPOs ever. Take a closer look at how it makes money”

After Palantir is done with the data, it then goes to HHS to be channeled back to the CDC and every other scientific enterprise that is a consumer of the data.

I feel less confident with the numbers going forward now that they go directly to two private vendors before landing in HHS under our President’s direct control. I don’t care who the President is, this isn’t right. It increases the temptation to alter the data for political effect.

U.S. National Health Emergency
Day 155  –  Sunday, August 16, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.2%  …………… U.S. POPULATION25.6% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.5% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 20.6% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 19.8%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 18th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
53,523   …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
1,071      …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
735,975 …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
212,002*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
21.2%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 The United States had the second-highest number of new infections yesterday behind India, and we were first in the number of COVID deaths. But how is the most powerful country in human history doing internationally on other pandemic measures?  As reported above, we are 18th in the number of COVID-19 tests per million. How are we ranked on deaths per million population, for example?

The U.S. has one of the top-rated healthcare systems in the world (even though it cannot be accessed by everyone), so you would expect us to do better than most other countries. You would be wrong. We are ranked:

  • 10th from the bottom in the highest number of deaths per million out of 215 countries 
  • 8th from the bottom in cases per million
  • Dead last with the high number of critically ill COVID-19 patients  (over 17 thousand), and with just 4.2% of the world’s population (yes it dropped 0.1% recently)
  • We are ranked dead last with the highest number of currently active cases (2.9 million are sick) 

For comparison sake, India with a billion more people has about 9k critically ill patients and 700k active cases while Brazil has 8k patients who are critically ill and 800k active cases as of today.

The point here, in fact, the point of this whole diary, is to make explicit the abject failure of national leadership in the United States relative to every other country in the world. Our great nation can’t seem to punch its way out of the global pandemic. We can’t even convince everyone that this virus is real.

U.S. National Health Emergency
Day 154  –  Saturday, August 15, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION25.7% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.5% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 21.2% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 18.8%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 18th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
60,600   …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
1,120      …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
837,407 …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
209,401*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
20.9%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 The U.S. was the second hottest hot-spot for new infections yesterday as California, Florida, and Texas still struggles to control their outbreaks.  Here is some other tidbits of news for today:

  • A pregnancy study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases on August 13, 2020, reviewed 11,308 cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections and/or COVID-19 disease when pregnant showed that health outcomes were generally favorable for both the mothers and newborns. Maternal and neonatal survival was reassuring, (98%) and (99%), respectively. 
  • The U.S CDC updated their coronavirus guidance on August 3, 2020, suggesting that people who have recovered from COVID-19 related infections can reduce their social-distancing efforts for the next 3-months, because of limited immunity.
  • As of August 12, 2020, the U.S. FDA says the food supply is safe and there is no evidence the coronavirus is transmitted through food, food containers, or food 
  • To expand the number of blood plasma donations, LabCorp announced on August 11, 2020, details of a no-charge antibody testing program. For the next 3-months, LabCorp will perform the high-affinity coronavirus antibody test at no-charge to patients, insurance companies, or the government.  

If you think this sort of summary of coronavirus news is helpful, you can find these stories and more at the Corona Virus Today website.

U.S. National Health Emergency
Day 153  –  Friday, August 14, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION25.7% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.5% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 19.5% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 19.3%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 19th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
55,364    …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
1,301      …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
973,441 …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
206,876*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
20.7%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 While the U.S. is still third in total new cases over the past 24 hours, over 1 in 4 new cases globally are here in America. California, Texas, and Florida are still the top hot-spots. John Hopkins publishes daily testing trends by state. It shows that Texas has the highest rate of positive results at 23.7%. (I don’t trust today’s numbers because you would have to believe that daily testing jumped up from 17k per day to 124k yesterday, dropping the 7-day running average 7% in a single day. The prior record testing day was less than 90k tests). Florida’s positive testing rate is 17.7%, South Carolina’s is 14.3%, Georgia’s is 10.9%, California’s is 6.7% and North Carolina’s is 6%.  In contrast in New Jersey, where the virus is under better control, the positive test rate is 1.7%. The other surprising feature about Texas is how spread out the outbreaks are given the sparse population in large areas of state (see map).  Nationally, the seven-day average positive COVID-19 test ratio is 7.2% and starting to trend downward.

U.S. National Health Emergency
Day 152  –  Thursday, August 13, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.0% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.7% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 19.0% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 20.3%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 19th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
54,345    …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
1,386      …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
608,804 …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
203,940*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
20%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 The U.S. had the third-highest number of new infections in the world again yesterday behind India and Brazil, and again had the most COVID-19 deaths in the world yesterday. Texas had more COVID-19 deaths yesterday. But instead of focusing on our troubles today, it might be interesting to focus instead on Ireland, a county that has been far more successful in managing the pandemic.

The graph below elegantly shows how successful Ireland has been in getting control of the virus versus the United States. As it happens, this blogger has close family connections there who have provided ongoing commentary on the Irish pandemic experience.

The Irish government recognized the pandemic threat early and acted more quickly and decisively than did we to bring it under control. In fairness, Ireland is about the size of Indiana. The first case of COVID-19 occurred on February 29th in the Republic of Ireland. Twelves days later the public schools were shut down. The pubs shut their doors that weekend and haven’t opened since. Tens of thousands of citizens were already put out of work due to the restriction by March 12th, and by March 16th the government established the pandemic unemployment payment of €203 a week. This later rose to €350 (about $415, but no one lost medical coverage which is free for everyone). 

By the end of March, almost 400,000 people had applied for the payment. A full account of their Irish response can be found at this hyperlink.

Early on Irish authorities recognized that the elderly were at greater risk from the virus and established tighter restrictions on everyone over 65 years old. This population was not allowed to leave their residential properties or travel on the roads or go shopping. If their shopping needs and other personal needs could not be arranged through family, friends, or neighbors, the government sent workers to every shut-in to bring them groceries, medicines, and other essentials. To enforce this restriction check-points were set up on the roads to check the ager of the occupants in their vehicles. Rather than railing against this restriction, the elderly saw it as their contribution to the health of their neighbors and called it “cocooning.” 

Those restrictions have recently been lifted and the country is in a phased reopening, similar to what is currently in place in states like New Jersey. The measures taken in Ireland were tough but the results have been worth the sacrifice. The attitudes of the Irish people in facing down the pandemic are in sharp contrast to the politicized and polarized reaction here in the U.S. The Irish philosophy towards wearing masks perhaps typifies their more community-minded approach to this pandemic.  We could learn a lot from the Irish.


U.S. National Health Emergency
Day 151  –  Wednesday, August 12, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.0% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.5% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 20.5% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 22.9%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 19th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
54,519    …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
1,504      …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
763,742 …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
202,106*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
20%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 The U.S. had the third-highest number of new infections in the world behind India and Brazil, but had the most COVID-19 deaths in the world yesterday. Testing numbers are still not climbing upward as they should be. California had the highest number of new cases yesterday and Florida had the highest number of deaths. California, Texas, Florida, and Georgia accounted for 54% of all new U.S. infections yesterday.

U.S. National Health Emergency
Day 150  –  Tuesday, August 11, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.0% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.5% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 23.0% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 12.4%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 19th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
49,800    …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
569         …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
745,364   …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
199,803*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
20%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 The U.S. is second again behind India in the number of new infections. Deaths are still trending downs relative to the rest of the world. Testing in the U.S. has plateaued and may be trending downward (we shall see). We are 150 days into this National Health Emergency and still, only enough COVID-19 tests have been given to date to test just 1 out of 5 Americans if each person was given only one test.

Interestingly, a look back at the peaks and valleys of daily reporting over time, both the daily new cases and COVID deaths, reveals that there is a weekly reporting cycle where the peaks mostly happen mid-week and the valleys occur around the weekends. The line graph of reported deaths for a three-day daily average (below) shows the regularity of this weekly reporting pattern. When looking at these daily statistical totals, the day of the week should be factored in. Note that there are 18 peaks in the graph below which correspond to the 18 weeks between April 3rd, and August 7th.


U.S. National Health Emergency
Day 149  –  Monday, August 10, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.0% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.6% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 21.4% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 11.1%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 19th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
47,979     …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
534          …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
6543.3   …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
197,553*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
19.8%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 The U.S. is second behind a surging India virus transmission rate. Again, India has a 1.1 billion more people. California had the most new cases yesterday and Texas had the most new deaths. New Jersey still has the most deaths per million population while California, Florida, and Texas now have more total cases than New York.

U.S. National Health Emergency
     Day 148  –  August 9, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.0% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.7% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 20.6% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 17.4%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 19th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
54,199     …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
976          …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
822,628   …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
195,075*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
19.5%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, daily testing rates should be between one and three million per day.

COMMENTS:
 The U.S. is back to number two in daily new cases behind India, which has over a billion more people. The spread of infections is still concentrated in Florida, California, and, Texas which together account for about 41% of the daily new infections. Lousiana, Arizona, and Florida still have the most cases per one-million population. Our daily testing numbers are starting to plateau.

We are 148 days into our National Health Emergency yet if only one COVID-19 test was given per person in the United State to date, fewer than 1 in 5 people would have been tested. There has never been a universal agreement as to how much testing is needed in the United States in part because estimates are based on differing goals and strategies to control the virus. But there is universal agreement that our current testing numbers are inadequate. Ramping up testing to meet the current national need cannot be accomplished without federal intervention and the invoking of the National Defense Procurement Act by the President. Back in April, when there were about 25,000 new cases a day, the estimated number of COVID-19 tests needed for various strategies to bring the spread of infection under control was published in a table by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The minimum number of daily tests among the models at that time was 3 million tests per day. (see KFF table below)

  <- Total tests, tests/million, U.S. population
U.S. National Health Emergency
     Day 147  –  August 8, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.1% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.7% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 26.6% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr) 20.0%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr) 19th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
63,246     …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.) 
1,290        …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.) 
758,346    …….…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.) 
192,992*  …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
19.3%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, this number should be over one-million.

COMMENTS:
 The recent slow down in daily virus testing has pushed us back to 19th place in national tests per million. Both the number of new infections and deaths in the past 24 hours has risen,  making the US number one in both. (Beginning today the daily tables will appear at the top of this blog instead of having to scroll to the bottom.)

<- Total tests, tests/million, U.S. population


U.S. National Health Emergency

     Day 146  –  August 7, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.2% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.7% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 20.9% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr)18.6%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr)18th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
58,611     …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.)
1,203        …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.)
756,852  …..…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.)
190,640* …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
19.1%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, this number should be over one-million.

COMMENTS:
 [No Comments]


U.S. National Health Emergency
     Day 145  –  August 6, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.2% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.8% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 20.3% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr)19.2%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr)18th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
56,148      …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.)
1,311        …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.)
762,258  …..…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.)
188,353* …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
18.8%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, this number should be over one-million.

COMMENTS:
 The U.S. had the second most new cases yesterday. A word about childhood transmission of the virus, following this comment yesterday from our President:

“… children are almost — and I would almost say definitely — but almost immune from this disease.”
It has long been observed that children are less likely to show symptoms of COVID-19, but it has never been suggested that this means they are immune. Children have been getting sick and dying from the virus all along.  A recent study shows that children who do have symptoms are just as likely as adults to spread it to others: 

6/30/2020 – Researchers have discovered that children younger than 5 years with mild to moderate COVID-19 have much higher levels of genetic material for the virus in the nose compared to older children and adults. The findings point to the possibility that the youngest children transmit the virus as much as other age groups.

A scientific study to learn about the incidents of COVID-19 infection rates in children was launched in May.

“A study to help determine the rate of novel coronavirus infection in children and their family members in the United States has begun enrolling participants. The study, called Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS), also will help determine what percentage of children infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, develop symptoms of the disease.”

The study has yet to be completed, so a definitive answer as to the incident rate of the virus in children isn’t known yet, but it certainly isn’t zero, as the President is claiming.

U.S. National Health Emergency
     Day 144  –  August 5, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.3% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.8% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 21.3% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr)13.0%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr)18th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
54,540      …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.)
1,362        …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.)
681,496  …..…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.)
186,055* …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
18.6%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, this number should be over one-million.

COMMENTS:
 We are 144 days into our national health emergency and still have over 20% of the world’s new cases despite being only 4.3% of the global population. Over 1,300 people died of the disease yesterday (R.I.P), a number that is within statistical expectations given the peak number of new cases it reflects. (It is not a statistical correction). Texas, Florida, and California still have the largest outbreaks.

U.S. National Health Emergency
     Day 143  –  August 4, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.4% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.8% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 24.3% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr)13.0%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr)18th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
48,646      …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.)
  567         …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.)
1,002,033  …..…… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.)
184,000* …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
18.4%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, this number should be over one-million.

COMMENTS:
 It looks like we have turned a corner. Both new cases and new COVID-19 deaths are down… but wait? Aren’t COVID deaths a trailing indicator? Doesn’t it take 10 to 20 days for the number dying of COVID-19 to become reflected? Yesterday the death toll was 2 times less than the day before, now today it is only slightly over yesterday’s number. What happened 10 to 20 days ago? Was there a drop in cases?

No! In fact, the average number of new infections in that 10 day period was at an all-time peak. The 10 day average during the peek was 63,451 new cases per day, while the average number of deaths in the past two days is 517 per day. That means a very low mortality ratio of 0.8%. It was about 2% on the prior days. Either we have achieved a remarkable drop in mortality rates or the numbers are off and we should see a correction over the next few days.

PS: Our global percentage of COVID-19 deaths continues to decline, also, despite our global rise in new cases relative to the world.


U.S. National Health Emergency
     Day 142  –  August 3, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.4% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.9% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 22.2% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr)10.5%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr)18th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
52,783      …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.)
  467         …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.)
708,599    ………… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.)
178,841* …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
18.1%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, this number should be over one-million.

COMMENTS: 
The U.S. had the second largest number of new infections yesterday, thanks to rising numbers in India (which has a billion more people). COVID-19 deaths recorded yesterday was 2 times less than the past 4-day average. I suspect we will see a correction, yesterday being a Sunday.

U.S. National Health Emergency
     Day 141  –  August 2, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.5% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES22.9% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 25.9% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr)20.0%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr)18th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
58,429      …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.)
  1,123      …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.)
635,857    ………… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.)
178,841* …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
17.9%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, this number should be over one-million.

COMMENTS: [no comments]

U.S. National Health Emergency
     Day 140  –  August 1, 2020 
 UNITED STATES SHARE OF THE GLOBAL TOTALS04.3%  …………… U.S. POPULATION26.6% ……………  TOTAL COVID-19 CASES23.0% …………..   TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS 24.5% ……………  NEW COVID-19 CASES   (24hr)22.7%. …………..  NEW COVID-19 DEATHS (24hr)19th    …………..   GLOBAL RANK IN TESTS PER MILLION
UNITED STATES DAILY PANDEMIC STATISTICS
70,904      …………  NEW INFECTIONS (24 hr.)
  1,462      …………. NEW DEATHS (24 r.)
1,069,908    ………… COVID-19  TESTS GIVEN (24 hr.)
176,923 * …………. TESTS PER MILLION POPULATION
17.7%      …………. TOTAL TESTS / US POPULATION
* For context, this number should be over one-million.

COMMENTS: 
It’s 140 days since Donald Trump declared a National Health Emergency. We have less than 5% of the world’s population and yesterday we had nearly 25% of all new infections in the world. We are among the 10 worst countries in terms of both COVID cases and deaths since the pandemic began. We are 19th in tests given per million despite our need for testing being more critical than in most other countries right now. Despite this, testing isn’t “ramping up” but barely crawling scaling up at all. I updated the seven-day average of daily testing in the U.S. (below) and added a graphic from a NY Times article today debunking the President’s claim that our high case numbers are due to our high testing numbers. This isn’t true. And testing doesn’t “cause” infections!


Back to Black – Racism and Police Homicides in America

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Mr. George Floyd of Minnesota

Once again, an egregious police homicide of a Black man caught on videotape shatters the calm and erupts into national protests and outrage. This time it is George Floyd of Minnesota. His life was slowly squeezed out of him as he lay bound and helpless while a seemingly depraved and indifferent cop pinned Mr. Floyd’s neck to the pavement with his knee.

Once again, the eyes of the nation turn towards the seemingly intractable problem of racism that, among its many forms, would cause African Americans to be nearly twice as likely to die at the hands of law enforcement than White Americans. Racism is our greatest barrier to becoming a more perfect union and at present, the racists seem to have ascended to power.

And once again, this despicable racial killing by a cop in broad daylight has ignited a blaze that masks an underlying outrage behind the numbers. About one-thousand American civilians are being killed every year by our civilian police force. From January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2019, there have been 1,179 police homicides of Black citizens, 2,242 homicides of White citizens, 843 police homicides of Hispanic civilians, and a total of at least 4,947 civilians killed by police.

Data is from the Washington Post database. Analysis by the author.

Civilian homicides by police always rise to public attention because they so disproportionally target African-Americans. Once the problem is framed as a systemic racial issue the proposed remedies never reach beyond the disproportionality question. The fact that our highly aggressive and militant police training is resulting in thousands of needless deaths never comes to light. Until that is addressed, the proposed solutions will never be to anyone’s satisfaction.

Data from the Washington Post database. Analysis by the Author

Civilian homicide rates by law enforcement in America are orders of magnitude higher than in Great Britain, France, or Germany. Yet, the actual number of civilian deaths could be considerably larger still. There is no mandatory federal tracking of homicides caused by police in the line of duty. Federal reporting is all voluntary and spotty at best. The countries best numbers come by combing through local newspaper accounts and gleaning what can be learned from the public account of police-involved civilian deaths. This civilian effort to track police homicides only started about five years ago. It is an imperfect system. Clearly, not all police shootings make it into the local newspapers. The information reported is rarely investigated by local reporters. They are the accounts given to the press by the local police officials. And there are undoubtedly police-related fatalities of civilians that are never reported in the local press.

No racial activist would be or should be satisfied if successful remedies to the racial problem merely end racial disparities. In practical terms that would mean about 103 fewer Black minority deaths each year while still tolerating 133 annual minority homicides. It would be equally crazy to accept 448 White civilian death by the police as long as this carnage is in proportional to the number of Blacks and Hispanics that are also killed each year.

Data is from the Washington Post database. The analysis is by the author.

The militarization of the American police force is its own grave problem that must be addressed. If German laws and police practices were adopted here, adjusted for our larger population, the United States might expect only about 40 police homicides per year, mostly justified uses of force, as opposed to nearly 1,000.

The arguments for this position on police homicides are in numbers found in the tables I created from the data contained in five year’s worth of information collected by the Washington Post. Seeing all the names as you scroll down that database of the dead is sobering.

——————————————–

Memorial Day Lessons in this 2020 Pandemic

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW


Before we flood back out into the world over Memorial Day of 2020 to remember our fallen soldiers, let’s remember the fallen in this viral war we are fighting today. If you plan to head out to the beaches, locker rooms, barbeques, churches, or synagogues, first remember to honor the lessons taught to us by 100,000 Americans who have already died. They are telling us that we cannot wash away this modern plague. We can not pray it away or wish it away. Until we control the virus through testing, isolating, and contact tracing, or through vaccinations, we are on our own. We must protect ourselves and everyone around us from the air we all breathe.

 

First, we need to understand that a virus is not a bacteria. Bacteria are small cellular critters that live on surfaces and feed off of the residues of film and grime that cover every surface. Bacteria are alive in most meanings of that word, and if you pick up enough of them on your hands, and touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, you can infect yourself with them.

 

Viruses like COVID-19 are 100 times smaller. They are mere strands of genetic material with no living activity when not in contact with host cells. They flit about in the air for a time, some of them floating around in moisture droplets released into the air that soon falls to the ground. Other virus strands end up in much smaller aerosol particles that stay suspended in the air for hours until they are sucked into your body when you take in a breath (think MASKS). If you touch a surface recently sprinkled with moisture droplets containing the virus, and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without first washing or sanitizing your hands, you may also infect yourself. This is a less common way to catch the virus because these viruses don’t stay intact long when the moisture dries up.

 

When COVID-19 viruses get sucked into your lungs from the air, they land on the surface of your lung cells (or other cells). They trick the cell walls into letting them come inside. This is when they become active. They take control of the cell and force the cells into replicating them wildly until the cell ruptures, releasing an army of clones into the surrounding tissue. Some of these clones attach to surrounding cells and slip inside to begin replicating again. Others are caught up in the air currents and get rushed outside the body in a breath, or a cough, or a sneeze (think MASKS).

 

The amount of virus in the air (called virus load) depends on several factors, including how sick a person is who is breathing out the virus, how close to a sick person’s breath-cloud you are (think SOCIAL DISTANCING), the volume of air per person in a given enclosed space, the air exchange rate in a building or enclosure and the length of time that a sick person is breathing virus into the air in a room, for example (think MASKS).

The manner of a sick person’s breath matters also. A cough releases a lot more virus than a breath and a sneeze releases a huge amount of airborne virus that travels at up to 200 miles per hour across a room (think MASKS). But as we learned the hard way, even one pre-symptom person singing in a choir can release copious amounts of virus in the air and infect nearly everyone else at a rehearsal.

 

Finally, our exposure to COVID-19 virus in the air is dependent on two factors, the virus load in the air we are breathing (again, think MASKS) and the length of time that we are breathing contaminated air. It’s a little like radiation exposure in this sense. No amount of exposure is entirely safe, but the amount of radiation and the length of time we are exposed increases our odds of getting sick.

 

So, as you venture out and about in the coming days, don’t poke your face into anyone’s breath cloud. Keep your social distance. Wear a mask when you are in close contact with others. Always wear a mask in stores, gyms, churches, homes, or any other enclosure where you are not alone. You don’t need a mask in the open air where no one is by you, but keep it handy. Your life could depend on it.

An Alternative to Total Lockdown is Urgently Needed

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Forget the Swedish or the German model for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States should develop its own alternative model to control the outbreak, one based on science and the particular demographic data that have emerged about this disease.

An alternative approach is urgently needed because, a) a general lockdown of the entire country and its economy cannot be sustained for long, and b) the more obstreperous elements of our population, and the billionaire elites who may be pulling their strings, are already forcing states into lifting restrictions on everyone. We are heading into what will likely be a disastrously premature reopening of the economy

America is trapped in a binary choice between letting COVID-19 run its natural course or locking down society to minimize the infections and deaths until a vaccine is available. The ultimate civilized goal in a pandemic is to achieve herd immunity through vaccinations, or by any other scientific means that results in the least possible loss of life. In the absence of any civil interventions, a novel virus simply runs rampant through the population at exponential speed, making almost everyone sick and killing millions if it is a lethal strain. In the absence of vaccinations, people who recover from the novel virus are likely to develop antibodies that will prevent reinfection for some period of time, although there are exceptions. When enough people in a population have immunity following their illness or through inoculations, the whole population develops herd immunity. This means that even those people who are susceptible to illness when exposed to the virus are rarely ever exposed to it. They are safely buffered by the many people around them who are immune.

There are two demographic characteristics of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates that appear significant and potentially useful in creating an alternative approach to controlling the pandemic. The first is the very differential mortality rates according to age, and the second is emerging evidence that up to 50% of individuals who contract the virus never display any symptoms of the illness. Look at the mortality differentials first.

HIGH-RISK GROUP


CDC data (see table below) shows that 97% of COVID-19 deaths are of people 45-years-old or older. This agrees with data collected in Sweden, China, and other countries.  Also, death rates are much higher in people with underlying health conditions. From these data, we know that there is a high-risk group that requires optimal protection from exposure to COVID-19.  It follows that any adults caring for people in this high-risk group also need to be optimally protected from exposure to the virus. High-risk individuals by age or underlying medical conditions and their caregivers should be allowed to remain in social lockdown in those states that are starting to life restrictions.

When the data in this CDC age/mortality rate table are pictured in a bar graph, the trendline reveals an exponentially rising mortality rate with age. It turns out that 97% of all COVID-19 deaths are of people over the age of forty-five.

A confirming set of data that looks at age and hospitalization rates produces a similar pattern (see below). This graph was produced by the CDC. And it does make sense that those who are more deathly ill would be more likely to require hospitalization. Taken together it makes sense that limiting exposure to this age-related high-risk group should lower both mortality rates and hospitalization rates, thus helping to prevent our health care system from becoming overwhelmed.

NON-PERSONAL-RISK GROUP


There is data that suggests as many as 50% of the population may carry the COVID-19 virus while remaining symptom-free. These people apparently test positive for the active virus but remain free of illness. During the period of their contagion, however, they remain a vector for exposing others to COVID-19. This makes them especially dangerous to others while they, and others like them,  are not at risk of illness or death themselves. Furthermore, if the bodies of symptom-free individuals ultimately eliminate the virus, these people may also develop antibodies to prevent another contraction of the virus. If their bodies have some other way of fighting COVID-19, that should be studied investigated as it might lead to effective new therapies.

A careful analysis of the characteristics of this non-personal risk group should be conducted at once to sees if researchers can reliably identify who is likely to be asymptomatic after exposure to COVID-19. If people in this category can be reliably identified, then at the least these would people for whom initial phases of vaccinations efforts would not be as critical. That would greatly focus resources while manufacturing of the eventual vaccine is scaling up.

MODERATE-RISK GROUP


If identifying individuals who are at not at personal risk of coronavirus illness can be accomplished without any special testing (say on a demographic basis) then identifying them would be advantageous for a number of other reasons. One advantage would be to create a middle group of people who fall outside of both the high-risk category and non-personal-risk group. This middle group of people would likely mildly to moderate symptoms when exposed to COVID-19.  This group of people would know that have to maintain appropriate safety precautions to prevent getting sick when they become exposed to the virus. The greater certainty of having this knowledge would help inform their decisions and behavior when reintegrating back into a less regulated environment as states begin opening up the economy.  These are also the people who would most benefit from testing, isolation, and contact tracing to control the spread of the virus. Being a smaller subset of the population, this would help target precious testing capacity and focus it where it would do the most good. When members of this group do recover from the illness, they will presumably have developed immunity that can allow them the non-personal-risk group.

 

This three-tiered method of controlling the virus would permit a safer means to gradually reopen the economy and relieve the economic burdens on us all. It would allow us to direct medical and economic resources to where they are most needed and most necessary. When a vaccine is finally developed, this approach would pre-identify those who need to be inoculated first, thus not wasting precious doses on those for whom it is not in immediate need.

 

Pie in the sky? Maybe, but it is worth consideration.

Daily US COVID-19 Response Global Comparison

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

April 30, 2020 12:18 pm


[Check back for daily updates below]

Much of the national and local coverage of this coronavirus outbreak in the United States fails to set the proper global context as to how we are doing at handling it relative to every other country on earth. This lack of perspective gives us a false sense of success at how well we are doing in reducing new infections and COVID-19 deaths. This false sense of being over the hump fuels the polarized political debates that further divide us on every issue. We should be united behind the science of infection controls during a global pandemic rather than driving wedges into the public debate to support or defend our political instincts. The virus certainly doesn’t play politics, and neither should we.

So, for a better perspective on how the United States is doing in our efforts to control this epidemic against the backdrop of the rest of the world, here are a few observation based on the number of new infections and deaths from yesterday, April 29th:

1. The United States had nearly as many new cases of COVID-19 yesterday than the next seven countries combined. The USA has 35% of the world’s new cases but only 4.2% of the global population. 

2. The united states had more COVID-19 deaths yesterday than the next six countries combined. We had 36% of all COVID-19 deaths in the world in the prior 24 hour period.




These comparisons clearly show that COVID-19 infection rates and deaths make the United States a huge outlier in the world.  We are not doing nearly as well as most other countries. And keep in mind that every nation still only has social distancing as the primary means to control the spread of infections. Testing, isolation, and contact tracing are part of the mix, but keeping infected people away from healthy people is all we’ve got at this point until we have a vaccine or effective treatments available. We are all in the same boat. 


These data, by the way, are continuously updated from the Worldometer.info website, a non-government, non-affiliated international effort to provide global statistics in an easy to access formate. 


So, the question has been asked, why are we doing so poorly compared with other countries? 

The answer is clear and inconvenient for many Americans. We have a lack of political leadership from the top. 


The wealthiest, most inventive, and industrious country in the history of the planet should, by now, have the capacity of testing 10 million citizens per day for the virus. Millions of people who are now unemployed should be hired, by now, to conduct testing, contract tracing, and welfare checks the millions who test positive for the disease and placed under quarantined. We should have in place a national stay at home order the same as every other country. We should have exceptions for stay at home order for essential workers, but we should have massive testing and mandatory guidelines, with aggressive enforcement, for those workers. We should not only have all the PPE we need by now, but we should also be exporting vast quantities of PPE to other nations that don’t have our manufacturing capacity. 


This is a picture of the nation we should be, the great country we once were. Nations of the world should be looking to us for guidance and help. Instead, we are inching our way back towards another round of disaster and death. 


______________________________________________________________________

MAY 1, 2020


The USA’s new infections are up and the death total is down today. Total COVID-19 tests are at 6,416,393 total tests or 19,311 per million population. We are ranked 44th in the number of tests/million. 



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MAY 2, 2020

The USA’s new infections are up to 36,007 new cases. That over 5,000 more cases in a day, more new cases than the next 9 countries combined. The death total (a lagging indicator) is down to 1,798 today. The total COVID-19 tests are at 6,600,878 total tests or 20,241 per million population. We are still ranked 43rd worldwide in the number of tests/million.




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MAY 3, 2020

The USA’s new infections are down from yesterday to 29,744 new cases in a day, more new cases than the next 6 countries combined. The death total (a lagging indicator) is also down from yesterday to 1,691 today. The total COVID-19 tests administered yesterday were 328,511 for a cumulative total of 6,931,132 total tests or 20,940 per million population. We are still ranked 42nd worldwide in the number of tests/million.

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MAY 4, 2020

The USA’s new infections are down 2 days in a row from to 27,348 new cases, more new cases than the next 5 countries combined. The death total is also down from the past 2 days to 1,154 today. The total COVID-19 tests administered yesterday were 265,608 for a cumulative total of7,196,740 total tests or 21,742 per million population. We are ranked 41st worldwide in the number of tests/million.

When I started tracking how well we are doing fighting the virus compared to other countries a few days back I made the error of not looking back on the data far enough to see the existing pattern. I will correct that here with two bar charts. The first shows the shape of the curve for new cases of COVID-19 in the US and the second shows the death rates over time. Both reveal the spikes and dips in numbers as outbreaks flair and social distancing takes its effect on transmission rates. The overall message is one of encouragement as COVID-19 deaths are trending down and to a lesser extent, so are infection rates. The cautionary message is that some of the flair-up have spiked to record levels of transmission and death. This suggests that we should maintain our social distancing behaviors while being more proactively to take steps to prevent COVID-19 hotspots from flaring up in places where hotspots are likely to occur.

                                      

And because this is a global comparison, here is a side by side comparison of the graphs supplied by Worldometer on global and US deaths.  While the global graph is weekly and the US graph is daily, the overall time period is similar, so the graphs were sized alike to try and get a fair comparison of the shape of the curves, and they appear to be similar in slop.

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MAY 5, 2020

The USA’s new infections are down 3 days in a row to 24,713 new cases, nearly as many new cases as the next 4 countries combined. The death total rose, however, from 1,154 to 1,324. The total COVID-19 tests administered yesterday were 265,691, up just 83 additional tests from yesterday, for a cumulative total of 7,462,431 total tests or 22,545 per million population. We are ranked 41st worldwide in the number of tests/million.

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MAY 6, 2020

The USA’s new infections are up slightly to 24,798 new cases, nearly as many new cases as the next 5 countries combined. The death total rose again from 1,324 new deaths to 2,350 in the last 24 hour period. The total COVID-19 tests administered yesterday were 265,507, down 184 fewer tests from yesterday, for a cumulative total of 7,727,938 total tests or 23,347 per million population. We are ranked 41st worldwide in the number of tests/million.

To give us some perspective on how the United States is doing in comparison to other countries that have had a massive COVID-19 outbreak like us, Here are side by side comparisons of the daily number of new deaths and new infection rates for Spain, Italy, and the United States. You can clearly see that the United States is still struggling while the other two countries are clearly getting the virus under control.

USA COVID-19 Response TODAY Against the Backdrop of the WORLD

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

April 30, 2020 12:18 pm

Much of the national and local coverage of this coronavirus outbreak in the United States fails to set the proper global context as to how we are doing at handling it relative to every other country on earth. This lack of perspective gives us a false sense of success at how well we are doing in reducing new infections and COVID-19 deaths. This false sense of being over the hump fuels the polarized political debates that further divide us on every issue. We should be united behind the science of infection controls during a global pandemic rather than driving wedges into the public debate to support or defend our political instincts. The virus certainly doesn’t play politics, and neither should we.

So, for a better perspective on how the United States is doing in our efforts to control this epidemic against the backdrop of the rest of the world, here are a few observation based on the number of new infections and deaths from yesterday, April 29th:

1. The United States had nearly as many new cases of COVID-19 yesterday than the next seven countries combined.

2. The united states had more COVID-19 deaths yesterday than the next six countries combined.


These comparisons clearly show that COVID-19 infection rates and deaths make the United States a huge outlier in the world.  We are not doing nearly as well as most other countries. And keep in mind that every nation still only has social distancing as the primary means to control the spread of infections. Testing, isolation, and contact tracing are part of the mix, but keeping infected people away from healthy people is all we’ve got at this point until we have a vaccine or effective treatments available. We are all in the same boat. 

These data, by the way, are continuously updated from the Worldometer.info website, a non-government, non-affiliated international effort to provide global statistics in an easy to access formate. 

So, the question has been asked, why are we doing so poorly compared with other countries? 

The answer is clear and inconvenient for many Americans. We have a lack of political leadership from the top. 

The wealthiest, most inventive, and industrious country in the history of the planet should, by now, have the capacity of testing 10 million citizens per day for the virus. Millions of people who are now unemployed should be hired, by now, to conduct testing, contract tracing, and welfare checks the millions who test positive for the disease and placed under quarantined. We should have in place a national stay at home order the same as every other country. We should have exceptions for stay at home order for essential workers, but we should have massive testing and mandatory guidelines, with aggressive enforcement, for those workers. We should not only have all the PPE we need by now, but we should also be exporting vast quantities of PPE to other nations that don’t have our manufacturing capacity. 

This is a picture of the nation we should be, the great country we once were. Nations of the world should be looking to us for guidance and help. Instead, we are inching our way back towards another round of disaster and death. 

The Most Rugged Individualist Still Has Only Two Hands

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Our survival and success as a species are the result of being social, and not by acting only to further our own self-interests. That lesson has gotten lost in recent times. The idea that we all act in our own self-interest will somehow serve our collective benefit is simply wrong. We should think for ourselves, yes, but act with consideration towards the common good.

We are nothing if not social beings. This may sound a bit more controversial than it is, but even our most intimate view of ourselves, of who we are as a person, is a composite of our interactions with others, beginning with our parents. We are literally nothing if we are not social, and we can only survive in community with others.

The high value we place on individualism today is a message of disunity that degrades our greatest survival strengths. The most rugged individualists still have only two hands. A better balance would be one hand for yourself and one for all others.Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 10.07.58 AM

Has Wealth Inequality Always Been Un-American? A Conversation

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Reaction to a previous blog post provoked a dialogue about wealth inequality which I am sharing here in the hope of generating a broader conversation. The post, which you can read in full here, lays out the premise in the initial paragraph:

In an Intelligencer article entitled, “AOC Thinks Concentrated Wealth Is Incompatible with Democracy. So Did Our Founders,” Eric Levitz writes, “ [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez’s second argument against the existence of billionaires — that concentrated wealth is incompatible with genuine democracy — was something close to conventional wisdom among the founders.”

ANON: Brian, this is debatable.

ME: So, what are your views?

As I see it, one of the main thrusts of the American Revolution as a rejection of the enormous inequality of wealth and power between the colonists and their land-owning aristocracy. The founders did not want there to ever be such a large inequality here so they created a democratic republic. Every initial sale of property in the settlements involved payment to the royal aristocracy who literally owned everything in the new world. And unlike the wealthy landowners within the English system, colonists who managed to purchase large land holdings here had no voice within their own Parliament in London.

Today we tend to forget that the wealthy landholders in the colonies were clearly not considered wealthy or powerful within their own country, England.

ANON: Brian, wealth inequality is not in and of itself immoral. What is immoral is when people gain wealth through a rip-off of other people.

ME: Your point about wealth inequality no being immoral is also debatable (see Mark 10:25 for an example), but that would be a complete change of topic that we need not go into here.

The question here is whether or not extremes of private wealth is incompatible with a democratic form of government, and the answer to that question is yes, they are incompatible.

As a way to think about this, imagine how radical it would be if corporate governance adopted a system of one vote per shareholder rather than one vote per share of stock to reflect an ownership stake in the company. This is sort of the situation we are faced with today in our republic. The vote per shareholder method of corporate governance is a democracy, and the basis of our republican form of government, the latter and usual method, one vote per share of stock, would result in a plutocracy if it was applied to nations. That is what we very much want to avoid, and have always wanted to avoid from our founding. The wealthiest individual in this country should have no more influence over government decisions, theoretically, than their one citizen vote. We are already very far from that democratic ideal.

ANON: Brian, why should wealth be taken from people who created it and redistributed to people who have done nothing to deserve any right to it?

ME: I have seen commentary similar to yours in response to a discussion of wealth inequality. It is a familiar conservative talking point, and not a very good one. It is more of a dodge using a dog-whistle reference to higher taxes on high-income earners while pitting them against the “undeserving” poor who don’t materially contribute to our GDP.

But we aren’t discussing the redistribution of income here, nor are we discussing the fair distribution of income wages generally. We are discussing wealth inequality and extreme accumulations of private wealth. We are also not talking about you or me or almost anyone else. The extremes of private wealth are concentrated in less than a thousand families, wealthiest elites who own nearly all of the equity in this country.

There are two primary methods to redistribute wealth and neither one benefits the poor. In fact, the poor, the working class and almost have of the middle-class have no wealth at all, so it isn’t being redistributed to them.

The first wealth redistribution scheme is property tax. Owners of personal property are taxed on the estimated sales value of their property. But even here homeowners are not taxed on their equity stake in their homes, but on the value of their houses as if they owned them free and clear. It is really a tax on their future equity if they can hold on to it for 30 years. This is a very regressive wealth tax and a steep price to pay for new membership into the property-ownership club.

The second method of wealth redistribution is estate taxes that are paid once in a lifetime after you die. The vast majority of citizens will never pay a penny in estate taxes after they die because, again, they have no wealth. Estates that have at least a few million dollars or more may pay some small percentage in estate taxes, but most of the wealth and assets of the very rich, when they die, end up in the hands of their children and named beneficiaries.

The vast majority of estates — 99.9% — do not pay federal estate taxes. While the top estate tax rate is 40%, the average tax rate paid is just 17%. The estate tax is only paid on assets greater than $5.3 million per individual ($10.6 million per couple). https://americansfortaxfairness.org/tax-fairness-briefing-booklet/fact-sheet-the-estate-inheritance-tax/

Most of the wealth passed along after death goes to children and beneficiaries who never earned any of it, and therefore are “underserved” in the exact same context as your meaning of that word in your comments above. Inheritance is the direct transfer of wealth and power by right of succession.

So, the short answer to your question is that there is no redistribution of wealth from those who (may have) earn it to the “undeserving” poor you referenced above.

[Please feel free to add your comments to this discussion]